Review By CAROLYN M. MULLIN
In the same spirit as The Little Prince comes this otherworldly tale of a young girl who befriends an elephant at the local zoo. A vulture, chimps, and of course the elephant look forlorn behind the bars of their barren cages/enclosures. A carrot entices the elephant to consider this potential young ally and eventually “they play an elephant game. And sometimes they play a girl game. And then one day, the elephant is gone. Back to Africa, says the caretaker.”
The text is minimal, but the images portray the depth of the quandary of captivity and the strength of the pair’s bond. As the plot proceeds, the young girl asks a bird to check on the elephant. During the swift’s travels in Africa, author and illustrator Nicole de Cock shows the distinction for the animals in captivity and the wild: the zoo’s giraffe faces a bitter cold winter while those in the savannah enjoy a warm romp through the grasslands alongside ostriches and other wildlife. The swift returns with good news, and the girl decides to venture off to Africa where, after quite a bit of searching, she reunites with her friend.
A sweet, thoughtful and touching narrative, The Girl and the Elephant is a great find for those looking to foster compassion for animals in their little ones.